my past three weeks have been filled with change, and I think that’s a good thing for me right now.  I’ve spent the past three weeks on both sides of the country, driving through or spending time in 14 states.  and the change is fitting.  while my individual life is staying much the same, the people in my life–their lives are changing, and in turn I am feeling it.  friends are elsewhere, people are getting married, babies are being born, things are changing, and I am feeling it.  it is really strange, and unexpected; I did not see it coming, though it has been coming for years, and will continue to come forever.  I think my past year or so has been fairly static.  maybe that is why it seems so foreign and all of a sudden.  which is funny…as I feel like change is a big part of my story.  I feel like the biggest thing I have ever learned is to go.  (or in some cases, stay).  to not be afraid to be who I will become, to not be afraid of what things will hold.  that what will be can be even greater than what is.  and I haven’t…lived that lately.  so I am thankful for the summer.  for the chance to process; for the chance to go.  for the opportunity to take in everything around me, and watch where my life is going.  because it is going.  where?  I don’t know.  but I am excited to see.  I wrote in my journal the other day, IT BETTER BE GOODand it will be.

so a few weeks ago, ann and I embarked on what may have been our final road trip together.  which is a little sad, but doesn’t make me any less thankful for it.  and let me tell you, this was MY kind of vacation.  (ann’s too.  we travel very much the same.)  it was everything a vacation should be.  we did a lot of driving, but it never felt like too much.  our longest day was 12 hours, but there was only one of those, the rest were more like 4-6 hours.  we spent the first night in eureka springs, but didn’t spend much time there (so we didn’t see any of the hokey touristy stuff like giant Jesus).  on our way to ES, however, we did do two things of note.  1.  we stopped in pittsburgh (ks) to eat @ braums (HEAVEN), but as we were driving through downtown, looking for braums, I got pulled over because the speed limit was TWENTY.  like, slower than a school zone.  and I wasn’t paying attention because I was excited about ice cream.  so I was going 16 over (oops), and told the officer why (ICE CREAM DREAMS), and he almost gave me a ticket, but as he was filling it out he noticed it was my birthday so he was nice and let me go with a stern warning.  YES!  I got lucky there.  I’m sure the ticket would have been pretty spendy.  2.  we happened to drive through joplin not long after getting through pittsburgh.  oh man.  at first, it looked totally normal, and not at all like there had been a big tornado, but then all of a sudden it’s like you cross one street and BAM, it’s completely destroyed.  it reminded me a lot of NOLA post-katrina.  I still can’t get over this.  beyond destruction.  but lots of hope.  I’m headed down in july–who wants to come with me?

after eureka springs, we headed on to memphis to see these folks.  I miss them!  I was sad we couldn’t stay longer!  although we did stay a little later than expected, because this was also where ann came down with a stomach bug.  un. fortunate.  she was a trooper.  but, it was so nice that we didn’t have to be anywhere super early, or have a tight schedule or anything, so it wasn’t a big deal for her to rest a little longer before we left.  so we didn’t see much of memphis, but we did stop @ mo money taxes for some quick cash for the weekend.  $$$$

next stop….ROME!!!  this was probably my favorite stop on the road, and I’m pretty sure I want to go back and stay for longer.  elizabeth really is one of my favorite friends of all time, and we miss her so in kc.  come back elizabeth!!!  her family was so hospitable and southern and just the perfect hosts for us.  they shared a very lovely meal, and we enjoyed movie talk, and pretty much the funniest dinner conversation I’ve ever had.  then we watched a little MP.  oh edmund, I love you.

so it took us four days to get there, but we finally made it to carolina beach.  where we did all sorts of things, on no schedule whatsover.  I’ll share my favorite pictures in another post.  we got home a little quicker, just stopping twice.  once in nashville to see ann’s friend elizabeth (one of her roommates while she taught in romania, not to be confused with my friend elizabeth in rome).  we ate @ monell’s (interesting experience, where I learned I DO NOT LIKE COLLARD GREENS,) and got to spend time with elizabeth, her husband, and their cute dog (and cute cats) (and cute baby-to-be that should arrive any day now).  then it was a quick stop in st. louis (after a dinner @ cheddars, my new favorite restaurant) before we made it home.  ps, in st. louis, we stayed @ comfort inn…um, it was REALLY nice.  especially for being cheaper than everywhere but motel 6.  who knew?  I would recommend it.  we managed to run many times, and my car did just great, hitting a big milestone (see below), and all was well until I dropped ann off @ her parents’ and proceeded to immediately get a flat tire.  they live on a gravel road, so I didn’t think all the shaking was a big deal.  ha!  then I hit the pavement and realized there was a big problem.  I have never seen a tire look like that.  it looked like a shark attacked it.  thankfully I was close enough that allen came and helped me (actually, I did not help, so…) change the tire.  thanks allen!  you are great!  I wanted to give you a little action on a slow tuesday night in paola.